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Parrotlet — Meet The Smallest New World Parrot Species

Parrotlet bird

Are you a fan of tiny parrots? If you want a colorful bird with a minuscule size but a big personality, the parrotlet may be the one for you!

This bird makes a great companion but behind its gentle facade is an aggressive tendency and bossy nature.

So, in this article, we’ll reveal to you:

  • Parrotlet bird’s temperament and personality
  • Its intelligence and talking ability
  • The needs and demands you must provide when raising a parrotlet

This comprehensive guide will help you determine if parrotlet is the right addition to your flock or as a starter avian pet. But before that, here’s a little overview of the parrotlet species.

parrotlet size

Parrotlet Overview

Family: Psittacidae
Size: 5 inches
Weight: 24 to 36 grams
Wingspan: 9 and a half inches
Lifespan: 20 years
Speech Abilities: Good; Can talk and mimic words


Parrotlet infographics

Introducing the Parrotlets

Parrotlets are the smallest parrot species and members of the Psittacidae family. These birds feature a stocky build with short tails.

With a length of 5 inches, they can easily fit into pockets. That’s why they earned the monicker “pocket parrots”.

They may look quite similar to green parakeets but they’re smaller than and not as priced as parakeets.

Types of Parrotlets:

There are 19 parrotlet species in total.

But others are rare and only the Pacific parrotlet and the green-rumped parrotlet are commonly available in pet trades.

1. Pacific Parrotlet
Price: $100 to $350
Rarity: Common

2. Green-Rumped Parrotlet
Price: $150 to $350
Rarity: Common

3. Blue Pastel Parrotlet
Price: $250 to $350
Rarity: Moderately common

4. Spectacled Parrotlet
Price: $350 to $500
Rarity: Common

5. Yellow-faced Parrotlet
Price: $200 to $350
Rarity: Common

6. Mexican Parrotlet
Price: $100 to $350
Rarity: Common

7. Lutino Parrotlet
Price: $350 to $550
Rarity: Somewhat common

8. Albino Parrotlet
Price: $325 to $475
Rarity: Rare

9. Pied Parrotlet
Price: $450 to $500
Rarity: Extremely rare

10. Sclater’s Parrotlet
Price: $100 to $350
Rarity: Moderately common

parrotlet bird temperament

Parrotlet’s Temperament and Personality

These birds are affectionate but they can be feisty and stubborn too. If you want more friendly parrotlet, choose hand-fed ones. However, if left alone for too long, they may lose their companionability.

But their mutations are more easygoing than the original green-colored variants. However, their downside is their less hardy nature due to inbreeding.

Since parrotlets can be temperamental and feisty, they’re not ideal for kids.

If you want to establish a strong bond with this kind of bird, you need to separate them from other birds. This will also prevent them from fighting with other birds over objects and territory.

Are parrotlets one-person birds?

Like other pet birds, parrotlets can be one-person birds. But with parrotlet training and exposure to other family members, you can help them bond with multiple people.

Do parrotlets cuddle?

No parrot species are truly cuddly even though they can be affectionate in their own way.

Are parrotlets aggressive?

As said earlier, they’re feisty so they do have aggressive tendencies. It could be due to territoriality, stress, lack of mental stimulation, hormonal fluxes during adolescence, breeding periods, and dominance issues.

If your parrotlet is aggressive, you may need reinforcement and desensitization training to correct their unwanted behaviors.

How messy are parrotlets?

These small pet birds can be quite messy and may poop wherever the urge hits them. So, you need to give importance to cage cleanliness when raising a bird.

Parrotlet Egg Laying and Mating Behavior

The majority of parrotlets breed in the wet season and pair up for life. Some nest in tree or cactus cavities, like the Mexican Parrotlet but others occupy other birds’ abandoned nests.

Female parrotlets lay one egg per day or every other day until they have 3 to 7 in a nest.

Although the male parrotlets feed them and the chicks, females alone incubate the tiny, white eggs. After 18 to 22 days, the eggs begin to hatch one at a time.

After a month or two, the chicks fledge and are prepared to leave the nest a few weeks later, however, siblings may stay in touch.

Can Parrotlet Talk?

Parrotlets can learn to pick up a few words and mimic some phrases but they aren’t the best talkers.

These birds can’t compete with the Budgies and other pet birds that talk in terms of vocabulary but parrotlets can still build a decent word bank.

Not all of them can go beyond a chirp or screech though. But even if not all of them can talk, teaching them is still worth a try.

If you want to have a talking parrotlet, adopt one that already knows how to talk.

Are parrotlets intelligent?

Well, these feathery friends are capable of mimicking human words and learning tricks, so they can be considered smart and talented birds.

parrotlet for sale

Where to Find Parrotlet for Sale

You may find these tiny pocket parrots in pet stores but the safest way to go is reputable breeders in your area.

Parrotlet price typically ranges from $100 to $350 but you can save a considerable amount if you’d adopt one from bird rescue organizations like:

Some of these rescued birds lost their homes while others were either given up by their owners or abused and not taken care of properly.

So, it’s best to know the background of your desired parrotlet before purchasing or adopting one because those with trauma aren’t easy to deal with.

You must also check their health history and their environment to ensure they’re healthy and raised in a loving environment.

Should I get a male or female parrotlet?

Both name and female parrotlets make good companions. In fact, the handling and socialization techniques play a more significant role in a bird’s companionability.

Parrotlets hand-fed by their owners are more friendly most of the time.

Parrotlet Predators and Threats

Parrotlets are tiny birds so it’s reasonable to think that they’re easy prey for predators in the forest of Mexico, Central, and South America.

These birds gather in the flock so predators will have a hard time hunting one parrotlet. However, their hatchlings are the ones at a higher risk.

Some of their predators are snakes, hawks, ocelots, and bats that can be larger than adult Parrotlets.

Parrotlet Conservation Status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) listed Parrotlets as the “least concern”. However, not all species have a stable status.

Parrotlets with Decreasing Population

Currently, the population of these Parrotlet parrot species is decreasing.

  • Mexican Parrotlet
  • Brown-backed Parrotlet
  • Amazonian Parrotlet
  • Spectacled Parrotlet
  • Green-rumped Parrotlet
  • Blue-fronted Parrotlet
  • Golden-tailed Parrotlet
  • Red-fronted Parrotlet
  • Spot-winged Parrotlet
  • Turquoise-winged Parrotlet
  • Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet
  • Lilac-tailed Parrotlet

Stable Parrotlet Species

These birds, on the other end, keep on thriving in the wild and are going stable so far.

  • Tepui Parrotlet
  • Pacific Parrotlet
  • Blue-winged Parrotlet
  • Yellow-faced Parrotlet
  • Dusky-billed Parrotlet
  • Sapphire-rumped Parrotlet

Parrotlet Average Lifespan

Despite parrotlets’ minuscule size, they can live a very long time. Their average lifespan when taken care of properly is 20 years but some can even reach 30 years.

That’s why if you’re considering purchasing or adopting parrotlet, you have to ensure you’re ready for a long-term commitment.

These pets can stay with you for a long time so you need to be prepared to care for them for many years.

Common Health Issues of Parrotlet

Parrotlets are generally healthy and active. They can be playful and get into lots of mess and their curiosity and size make them prone to accidents and being stepped on.

They’re not prone to any disease but may still develop health issues caused by avian viruses and bacteria.

parrotlet care

Pros and Cons of Parrotlet

Parrotlet birds may light up your world and provide you the companionship you never thought you needed. But you have to know that it won’t be always rainbows and butterflies when raising a bird.

So to ensure you make the right decision, weigh the pros and cons of parrotlets below before purchasing one.

Why choose parrotlet?

  • They’re affectionate
  • Can pick up some words
  • Highly intelligent
  • Capable of learning tricks
  • Bonds well with owners

Why you shouldn’t get a parrotlet?

  • They can be aggressive
  • May bully other birds and bite kids
  • Feisty and stubborn at times

Parrotlet Care Tips for New Owners

Are you still determined to get and raise parrotlets as pets despite learning their pros and cons? If yes, we got some tips for you so you can help them grow and thrive.

Cage Requirements

So, what kind of bird cage does a parrotlet need?

Parrotlet cage size shouldn’t be smaller than 24x24x24 inches with a 1/4 inch bar spacing. But the larger the cage, the better because these tiny birds need space to move and jump around.

They’d also love it if you’d provide parrot kabobs and other shreddable toys, swings, ropes, ladders, and boings. Parrotlets may be tiny but they have strong beaks so it’s best to buy toys designed for conures and cockatiels.

They also need perches, dry food, and freshwater container. Put the cage in a quiet corner in a busy room and keep it out of drafts and direct sunlight.

Parrotlet Diet and Nutrition

The Parrotlets’ diet in the wild consists of blossoms, fruits, seed heads, and berries. But those in captivity need to have high-quality pelleted bird feed diets that provide balanced nutrition supplemented with fruits, vegetables, and small seeds.

  • 25-45% pellets
  • 30-50% fresh vegetables
    • The fruits that are safe for them include apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, and berries. But avoid feeding them avocados, onions, spinach, grapefruit, and tomatoes because they contain Oxalic acid that’s toxic to birds.
    • You can also feed them some suitably cut peas, broccoli, carrots and peeled kiwi, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, grains, and legumes.
  • 15-25% low-fat seed mix consisting of anise, cantaloupe, millet, barley, flax, various grass seeds, and greens.

Grooming and Hygiene

Bathing is essential for these birds to curb dander and moisturize their feathers. So make it part of your routine.

Don’t forget to clip their nails and trim their feathers regularly. You may also trim their beaks to prevent overgrowing.


Parrotlets need at least 3 to 4 hours of exercise paired with social interaction to keep them happy and healthy. If you don’t have the luxury of time to interact with them for hours, you can use the toys to keep them occupied.

parrotlets as pets

How to Bond With Your Parrotlet

If you just brought your parrotlet home and it gets aloof and timid, you may be wondering how to bond and establish a close relationship with them.

Here are some tips you can try to achieve that.

1. Talk to them at bedtime

Spend time talking to your bird before covering its cage. They have a better attention span at night than in the middle of the day so grab that chance to get them accustomed to your presence and voice.

2. Share meals with your parrotlet

Sharing food is a sign of care and affection and just like humans, parrotlets enjoy sharing a meal too!

But make sure the food you offer from your plate is unseasoned and oil-free like fruits and leafy greens.

3. Groom your bird

Try scratching your parrotlet’s head to see if your bird is receptive. If it reacts positively, help him remove some pinfeathers that they’re unable to reach. And later on, you can bring him to shower with you.

4. Sing and dance together

Whistling, singing, and dancing together can help strengthen your bond with your bird too! So, turn the music on and groove with your bird to cement your bond.

5. Give them treats

Bribing your bird with a delicious snack from time to time can help you grow closer to him. But make sure you won’t overdo it because too much can make them lose their interest in formulated food.

6. Socialize with your parrotlet

As said earlier, your parrotlet needs a good 3 to 4 hours of out-of-cage time to exercise and socialize. As you spend more time with him, you’ll get closer and more comfortable with each other.

pocket parrots

Frequently Asked Questions About the Parrotlet

Do parrotlets make good pets?

Parrotlets make excellent pets, thanks to their friendly and fun personality. On top of that, they’re highly intelligent and can learn some tricks and words.

Do parrotlets like to be held?

Parrotlets can be affectionate and playful companions and they’d love the handling and socializing with their humans. They can also be hand-tamed and will enjoy hiding in people’s shirt pockets or scarves. This behavior of hiding in pockets earned them the title “pocket parrots.

Are parrotlets high maintenance?

Despite their small size and being easier to clean up compared to larger parrots, parrotlets aren’t low-maintenance birds because of their socialization needs. And like other parrots, they can potentially become destructive.

Can parrotlets be left alone?

You can leave them alone for a few hours but since parrots are social creatures, they can be unhappy and sad when abandoned. They shouldn’t be left at home alone for 6 to 8 hours and they’d love it if they can play and interact for at least 2 hours a day.

Are parrotlets good for beginners?

Parrotlets aren’t the best starter pets because they can be nippy and bossy and may bully birds that are many times their size.

But each bird is different and with proper training, you can help them get rid of their undesirable behaviors and make them more gentle and friendly.

Do parrotlets scream?

These birds will scream when alarmed. They also scream or loud vocalize as they used to in the wild to communicate with other flock members.

But other birds squawk when frightened, bored, lonely, or stressed.

Why do parrotlets bite?

Parrotlets may bite you due to fear or trauma. So, you need to be gentle and calm when interacting and petting them.

Tapping, hitting, or pushing your bird can make your bird think that your hands have negative connotations.

parrotlet cage

Parrotlets: Final Thoughts

Parrotlets are talented birds with the ability to talk and build a decent love bank. But not all of them can talk and it takes consistent vocal training to hone and improve their speaking and mimicking skills.

This parrot species can be a friendly and affectionate companion. But don’t underestimate its small beak because it can bite hard and injure you.

Because of that reason, the Parrotlet bird isn’t an ideal pet bird for families and children.

If you want a gentle bird species with excellent taking skills and an affectionate personality, check out this next breed.

READ NEXT: Budgerigars – Everything You Need to Know

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